Whenever and wherever disasters strike, destruction and confusion trail in their wake. AmeriCorps and national service members trained in disaster response are proving to be a valuable and cost-efficient resource for America as they help victims and survivors begin to rebuild their lives.
As part of AmeriCorps Week, we put the spotlight on how national service works for communities hit by disasters.
By forming relationships with local, state, and national leaders, AmeriCorps and national service are able to expand the capacity of emergency and community programs that make a difference when disasters happen. The latest example followed the devastation left behind by Hurricane Sandy across parts of the Northeastern United States.
Under the leadership of our Disaster Services Unit, more than 2,400 AmeriCorps members from programs across the nation participated in the federal response to Hurricane Sandy, including the first class of AmeriCorps NCCC members serving with FEMA Corps. These AmeriCorps members mucked and gutted more than 2,000 homes in New York and New Jersey, and they mobilized 16,000 volunteers in New York for 128,000 hours of service, valued at $2.68 million.
On Saturday, March 16, more than 200 AmeriCorps members converged in Rockaway, NY, to remove 420 bags of debris from damaged beach, repair a daycare center, and help area residents get back on their feet. Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Wendy Spencer, Director of AmeriCorps Bill Basl, AmeriCorps NCCC Director Kate Raftery and representatives from local partners New York Cares and New Yorkers Volunteer joined the effort.
“The collective work of AmeriCorps members constitutes an invaluable national resource,” U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, wrote in a letter marking AmeriCorps Week. “It is my hope that your professionalism and dedication inspire others to take part in actions large and small, public and private to help communities not just recover, but thrive.”
“AmeriCorps members have provided invaluable support to citizens and communities affected by Hurricane Sandy and other disasters,” said Basl. “They've made substantial progress in New York and other affected areas, and there's more work to be done. Americans know they can count on national service members before, during, and after a disaster.”
The work in New York builds on the AmeriCorps efforts in disasters. You can see another example of national service in action in the video below, which highlights the response to an F-4 tornado that struck Yazoo City, MS, in 2010.
The Corporation for National and Community Service wrapped up AmeriCorps Week with a day of service in Rockaway, NY. This event honored the effort of relief workers so far, and highlighted the work that still needs to be done.
As an Iraq War veteran, I am honored to work at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). We are home to more than 70,000 AmeriCorps members, whom we are celebrating as part of AmeriCorps Week.
The future of the United States hinges on an educated workforce that’s equipped with the skills they need to meet the challenges that lay ahead. AmeriCorps members across the nation are working to ensure that our students are up to the task.
During AmeriCorps Week, many officials will step forward to recognize the contributions our members are making in their communities and states from coast to coast. We’ve collected a few highlights from the leaders of our statehouses across the nation.
Each generation of Americans embraces the belief that no problem is too big for a determined group of people to conquer. This challenge is central to national service, which gives thousands of Americans a chance to unite with like-minded people and work toward improving the lives of our most-vulnerable citizens.
The Service News Digest is a regular feature on the Serve.Gov blog. In this series, we showcase news highlights that feature national service and Corporation for National and Community Service programs. Take a look at some of the great stories that had people talking recently.
I began my AmeriCorps journey when I was recruited into the program by the Community Action Agency in Annapolis, MD. My first job was to create a mentoring system for families of Head Start students. The next year, I continued serving in the program by training others in mentoring as a regional coordinator, and I returned for a third year with AmeriCorps to lead the program as a state coordinator with Volunteer Maryland.
Year-round AmeriCorps Alums, the national network for all alumni of national service, seeks to positively support and impact the professional life of its members. It is fitting tribute then that this year's AmeriCorps Week theme is AmeriCorps Works, perfectly aligning with the mission of AmeriCorps Alums.
Since 1994, AmeriCorps members have given more than one billion hours and mobilized tens of millions of volunteers to help their fellow citizens. AmeriCorps Week (March 10-March 18) recognizes their commitment and impact.